It’s that time of year again when hotel loyalty programs release their annual lists of category changes within their program. I eagerly await Hyatt’s every year, as knowing where I can burn my Category 1-4 certificates is the first thing on my mind. I’ve been rather checked out of Bonvoy lately, but when I saw the Marriott 2020 category changes, the overall effect really turned my head. And it wasn’t for a good reason.

Bonvoyed Yet Again By the Marriott 2020 Category Changes

The changes this year are massive. Over 2,000 properties are changing category. This is nearly a third of their portfolio, and the overall effect isn’t pretty. There are 499 hotels decreasing in award price, while there are 1,686 properties increasing in award price. The overall effect is that a whopping 16% of the entire portfolio will have higher award prices! Considering other programs where we’ve seen a roughly net-zero effect with their annual adjustments, the Marriott 2020 category changes are decidedly negative.

One of the first things on my mind is how easy it will be to use your annual 35,000-point certificates from various Bonvoy credit cards. With the current Marriott 2020 category changes, there are a whopping 216 hotels that will be moving out of the Category 5 range into Category 6 and will be out of reach as an annual free night. Some of these are downright insulting, including:

  • Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Augusta Fort Gordon Area
  • Marriott East Lansing at University Place
  • Louisville Marriott East
  • SpringHill Suites Navarre Beach

I’m also frustrated that the Westin SFO and Marriott Waterfront SFO will be out of reach at Category 6 properties, as burning free night certificates for necessary airport nights is something I’m keen on doing. #Bonvoyed

marriott 2020 category changes

San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront Suite

Check out the full list of property changes here. The Marriott 2020 category changes take effect on March 4, 2020, so you have about a month to lock things in. As much as you can trust that. Marriott does state:

“Rest assured, if your favorite hotel is moving to a higher category, you can save points by booking at the current redemption rate before the changes go into effect. If it’s moving to a lower category, you might want to wait until the changes take effect.”

Let’s hope they honor that.

Final Thoughts

It’s always frustrating when programs make these changes, especially when they are an overall negative change. We’ve seen previous IHG award category changes along these lines where high number of properties increased in price with far fewer decreasing. With all the other problems we’ve seen with Bonvoy and the lack of return on spend with their cards, I’m glad that I’ve mostly ditched the program. The Marriott 2020 category changes just reinforce that decision.

H/T: Miles to Memories